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PHL Council Passes FY21 Budget; NJ DOC Serves Removal Charges on Officer; NJ 3 Died, Couldn't Swim
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 06/25/20 5:29 pm | updated: 06/25/20 5:29 pm
Philadelphia City Council had its last stated meeting before the summer recess on Thursday, 6/25. There were no surprises, just the formality of voting, but today's session brought big change to the City, a culmination to the reaction to the last three months. All of the bills and resolutions were approved, but there are certainly factions who still feel left out wishing for more and wondering why or how they weren't heard despite their calls. Council approved the FY2021 budget today. There are across the board reductions and outright cuts due to the impending budget deficit left by the impact of coronavirus COVID-19, a deficit that continues to grow as the economy continues to be shutdown. The harsh reality was evident when Mayor Kenney released an updated budget on May 1. A month later, major unrest broke out across the country that called into question our policing systems. City Council worked to juggle calls to fund struggling programs and also defund the police. This approved budget nixed a $14 million increase for the PPD and moved $19 million in PPD funding and services under the purview of the Managing Director's Office. The budget also put millions back into public housing. The Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy had been eliminated by the proposed budget. The office, among other things, is responsible for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund which provides grants to hundreds of local non-profits. This budget did not bring back the OACCE, which will be hard on the arts community. Council did put $1.35 million back into the arts sector. $350,000 goes to the African American Museum and $1 million goes to the PCF. The fund has not announced how they plan to operate with 1/3 the budget.

There were many other resolutions and ordinances passed ranging from healthcare workers to fireworks. Council passed three ballot measures that voters will vote on in November. Those include the end to 'stop and frisk' policy, the creation of the Office of the Victim Advocate, and the creation of the Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Those all would be Home Charter Rule changes. Council also approved a bill that would require anyone seeking a civil servant position, including police, to live in the city for at least one year before appointment. There were two measures approved dealing with healthcare workers during COVID-19. One would make it illegal to fire a healthcare worker that blows the whistle on unsafe working conditions. The second allows healthcare workers to be compensated for lost wages and medical expenses if they contract a disease at work during a pandemic.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections announced on Thursday, 6/25, that it has served removal charges against a DOC officer that was caught on video reenacting George Floyd's death while protestors marched by in Gloucester County earlier this month. He has been placed on 'non-pay status pending a due process hearing.' The man, identified as Joseph DeMarco by PBA 105, has also been suspended by the union. The incident happened on June 9 in Franklin Township, NJ. Protestors were marching down the street, when they passed by one property with several men standing around and yelling back at them. The video shows one man kneeling on the neck of another man who is lying on the ground in the manner that Floyd was killed by an officer in Minneapolis in May. The man on the ground was identified and has been fired from his job at FedEx.

SEE VIDEO: NJ Men Recreate Floyd Death

Electricity has been ruled out as a factor in the deaths of three family members in their backyard swimming pool in Middlesex County, New Jersey. It happened around 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, 6/22, on Clearview Road in East Brunswick. 62-year-old Bharat Patel, his daughter 33-year-old Nisha Patel, and her 8-year-old daughter were found unresponsive in the above-ground pool. They had just moved to the home in the past month and a pool company had recently opened the pool. The medical examiner determined the manner of death as accidental and the cause of death to be drowning for all three. The pool was mostly 3 1/2 feet deep, but some areas were 7 feet deep. The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and the East Brunswick Police issued a joint statement that said, "It doesn't appear that the victims knew how to swim."

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